Rules and Regulations

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Black Coulee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is an extraordinary place for wildlife and people. Because it is a wildlife refuge, the needs of wildlife and habitat must come first. Regulations have been established to provide wildlife and their habitats with adequate protection.


The Refuge and Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) are open from dusk till dawn. The Refuge is located 10 miles south of the town of Turner in northeastern Blaine County, Montana via Black Coulee county road. Black Coulee Road runs north-south in the middle of Black Coulee NWR/WPA. Public access off of the public highway is via foot travel only. Parking is allowed off of the road and at entrances, as long as access gates are not blocked. No camping or overnight parking is allowed on the refuge.

Hiking is allowed in all areas open to the public. Bicycling and horseback riding are allowed only on the public highway, and not on any lands within the boundaries. Boating is allowed only during the waterfowl hunting season in the fall, with boats being transported via foot from parking area to the wetland. Portions of Black Coulee NWR are under easements of private lands. Persons wishing to access these private lands must gain permission from the private landowner.

Fishing is not allowed on the Refuge portion of Black Coulee, and open on the Waterfowl Production Area as per state regulations; however there are no sport fish in the wetland.

Only non-motorized boats are permitted during the fall waterfowl season. All boats and other personal property must be removed at the end of the day.

Sport hunting is permitted on the refuge in accordance with all state and federal regulations. Hunters should consult the Montana state hunting regulations. Only non-motorized boats are allowed during the waterfowl hunting season, and all boats, decoys, blinds, other personal property, and any materials brought onto the area for blind construction must be removed at the end of the day. Hunters may only possess approved non-toxic shot for waterfowl and upland game bird hunting. Portable tree stands must have your automated licensing system (ALS) number visible, and can be left on site from 15 August to 15 December. The construction or use of any permanent tree stand or ladder, and the use of nails, wire, or screw-in spikes is prohibited. Fox and coyote hunters may use only center-fire rifles, rim-fire rifles, or shotguns with approved non-toxic shot.

Firearms and other weapons are subject to state law. At all times, persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32). i.e., only during the lawful pursuit of game during legal seasons.

Dogs must be kept on a leash from 15 April to 15 August. Other prohibitions on the refuge are off-road vehicles; and collecting of plants, animals, minerals, antlers and artifacts.

Black Coulee NWR is a minimum of 45 minutes from food and fuel of Harlem, Montana. The road going to Black Coulee NWR is gravel, and during wet conditions can be difficult to drive. Be prepared with fuel, water, and food. For driving directions, please visit our "Contact Us" page.

For questions about recreation, please contact the Black Coulee NWR office located at Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge.